August 29, 2017
Driving 45 K up a very dusty gravel road, we stopped above where Buhl Creek comes into the Skook. It is truly a creek there, but still bigger than many of the trout streams we are used to fishing in Virginia. Kelly got out to check out the stream at the bridge. There were two heavy pieces of equipment removing a temporary bridge and five men on the ground. Two men came over to Kelly as I watched from the truck. Surely they were going to tell him to get off the bridge, but the foreman, Dean, was telling him where to fish. They walked up the road and motioned me to drive up. I pulled to a stop in front of them on the near side of the bridge.
Dean is the project supervisor and lives in British Columbia 8 months of the year and 4 months in Nova Scotia. You can’t do any better than that! He pulled a 30ft trailer up that road to stay in while the project was being done. This work is paid for by the Canadian government, purely for recreation purposes, hunting and fishing. Bow season will start in a week. They have seen lots of elk, but no bears. Grizzly hunting has been banned in this area, but Dean thinks that is a mistake. He thinks they will multiply quickly. Needing a lot of range, they will have to move into populated areas to find food.
We asked about the roads and where to go, and he pulled out his iPhone, showing us an app called IHunter. You have to download the area you are hunting or fishing in, but then your phone works as a GPS. I will get it tomorrow! We thanked Dean profusely, drove around the corner and parked. We fished upstream for five hours until we were starving and thirsty. It was a perfect day. The river was gorgeous, crystal clear, and the fish were bit’n. That is a reference to Kelly’s book about our last fishing trip across Canada in 2013, “If The Fish are Bit’n”, on sale at Amazon. Most of the fish were small, but some were good eating size. You are not allowed to keep any fish on the Skook, and we didn’t. I am sure many people do keep them. In heavily traffic areas, there are no fish, or few fish. After eating something, we drove back down the dusty road, waving to Dean as we passed, and giving him the thumbs up. He smiled and waved back from the other side of the bridge. We drove down a side road to the stream. It was obvious a lot of people go to this spot. We fished a huge, beautiful pool, but only caught one small trout.
An hour of driving that bumpy, dusty road will fray your nerves. The road comes to an incredible overlook of Columbia Lake with marshes surrounding it. Huge mountains provide the backdrop. I wanted to stop here and take some pictures, but smoke filled the air. Fires surround the area. One is on the Kootenay north of us, one to the west and to the south are fires in Wyoming, where we are headed next week. I have not seen rain since I left Columbus, Ohio on a rainy morning, July 10th. Indiana had beautiful, green fields, but they were watering the fields. Everywhere else I have been has been incredibly dry. Central Oregon was the worst. Not getting any news, I have no idea if there are fires there. I left that beautiful area because of 112 degree days. British Columbia is really suffering from the fires.
Back at camp tired, but quite happy, we fixed a drink and drove down to the “Cocktail Area” beside the Kootenay River. A man was walking his dogs and throwing a frisbee into the river for one of them. We said hi, and he came over to talk. His name is Kelly also. He is from this area and told us about the “Char” in the Kootenay that are a cross between a salmon and rainbow trout. You can keep one, but it has to be over 36”. He seemed quite happy we had come here to fish despite the smoke and fires. Hunting and fishing bring money to an area that has little industry but logging. Even if you don’t hunt and fish, this is an incredible place where two great rivers cross and huge mountains loom all around. The whole world goes to Banff and Jasper just the other side of these mountains. Where we stayed at the great La Beausoleil B&B in Golden, is only 186K away. While we were there with our wives, we took a boat tour of the Columbia Marsh just south of Golden, also a beautiful area.